Tag Archives: USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323)

Coast Guard Updates: Islands fading, SLEP’ing Bears, and OPC gains steam

From the DHS/USCGC FY2023 Budget book are a few gems including the drawdown of the once-mighty 49-ship strong Island-class 110-foot patrol boats— built between 1985-1992– the fact that at least one of the circa 1960s 210-foot Reliance-class cutters will decommission soon, and one of the 13 crews of the circa 1980s 270-foot Bear-class cutters will be disbanded as the class undergoes a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) process to continue service for another decade (or two) as the Offshore Patrol Cutter comes onboard.


We’ve talked a bunch about the Islands in past years, and they deserve it, as they are great boats. The planned drawdown leaves just five Island-class cutters in domestic waters, three in New England and two in the Pacific Northwest, areas where smaller 87-foot boats have a tougher go of it:

USCGC Key Largo (WPB-1324) is based in Gloucester, Mass 

USCGC Sitkinak (WPB-1329) is based in Portland, Maine 

USCGC Tybee (WPB-1330) is based in Woods Hole, Mass

USCGC Cuttyhunk (WPB-13) is based in Port Angeles, Washington

USCGC Anacapa (WPB-1335) is based in Petersburg, Alaska

The cutter Anacapa tied up at the Coast Guard’s mooring in Petersburg in April 2022 Joe Viechnicki KFSK

Of note, Anacapa is somewhat famous, having sunk by NGF a Japanese “zombie trawler” a few years back.

Now THAT’S Homeland Security! ( USCG D17 photo)

Cuttyhunk is set to decommission this week– on Thursday 5 May– after 33 years of service and will be replaced at Port Angeles by Anacapa who just shipped down there from Alaska, where she has, in turn, been based for the past 32 years.

A snippet of Cuttyhunk’s long and distinguished career: 

Over the past 34 years of service, Cuttyhunk’s crew conducted a wide range of operations. The cutter’s crews completed over 1,000 operations ranging from law enforcement boardings to search and rescue responses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Cuttyhunk assisted U.S. Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in several submarine escorts before Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor was established to ensure the safe transport of Ship Submersible Ballistic Submarines.

Nicknamed “The Pest of the West”, Cuttyhunk assisted in one of the largest maritime drug seizures in the Pacific Northwest, near Cape Flattery, Washington, in December of 1997. More than 3,500 pounds of marijuana, estimated at a street value of $15 million, was recovered from the OK Jedi, a 60-foot sailboat with three people onboard.

And then there were four.

Bears in hibernation

The Coast Guard has a habit of doing most of their repair, modernization, and SLEP work in-house, at the Government-owned CGY in Maryland. If only the Navy had such a program, right?

Anyway, USCGC Seneca (WMEC-906), commissioned in 1987, is the sixth of the 270-foot Bear-class cutters completed but is the first to complete its nine-month SLEP. Besides hull work in drydock, this included replacing generators and updating systems throughout the ship.

Incidentally, the Coast Guard Yard has been the DOD’s primary supporter of the MK 75 76mm gun, as everything that carried the old OTO Melera Super Rapid in the U.S. Navy (FFG-7, PHM, etc) has been decommissioned.

Bear-class cutter USCGC Thetis with her new (to her) MK 75

Changeout of CGC THETIS’ MK75 using a previously-overhauled MK75 this month at the CG Yard

Offshore Patrol Cutter

Fast facts:
• Class: Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) Heritage-class (WMSM)
• Weight: 4,320 tons
• Length: 360 feet
• Beam: 54 feet
• Speed: 22.5 knots
• Armory: Mark 110 57mm Bofors rapid-fire gun, Mark 38 MOD 3 25mm autocannon with 7.62mm chaingun over the helicopter hangar, remote and crew-served .50 caliber M2HB heavy machine gun mounts
• Crew: up to 126

Panama City’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group is celebrating the award of the fourth Heritage Class offshore patrol cutter (OPC), the future USCGC Rush (WMSM 918), as Hull# 309A last week. The Coast Guard plans to field as many as 25 of the new 360-footers to replace both the 210-foot Reliance and 270-foot Bear-class cutters.

The three other OPCs under contract to ESG, all in various states of construction:

Hull# 302A: WMSM-915: USCGC Argus
Hull# 305A: WMSM-916: USCGC Chase
Hull# 307A: WMSM-917: USCGC Ingham

Ukraine War Naval Update

Besides your typical maritime harassment seen in the area in the past few years– GPS jamming, AIS spoofing, communications jamming, electronic interference, and cyber-attacks– Lloyds and NATO warn shipping that “collateral damage or direct hits on Civilian Shipping in the North-Western Black Sea area are considered VERY HIGH.”

This includes mines, which the 2,100 dwt Estonian-owned, Panama-flagged cargo ship MV Helt may have sunk by last week off Odessa.

Word is that the Russians may have forced the vessel to act as a lane-clearer in the aspect that “any ship can sweep for mines…once.”

When it comes to missiles or rockets, it appears at least three neutral party merchant vessels have taken hits in the area since the war started.

  • Millennial Spirit (IMO 7392610), a 2,200-ton Moldavian-flagged chemical tanker, was attacked on 25 February and burned for two days.
  • Namura Queen (IMO 9841299), a Japanese-owned Panama flagged 85,065-dwt kamsarmax, was hit on 25 February.
  • Yasa Jupiter (IMO 9848132), a Turkish-owned Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, with 11 Filipino crew, was hit on 24 February but was able to make it to port in Turkey.

In other naval news from the Black Sea, it has been confirmed that the Ukrainian Navy scuttled their flagship and only frigate, the Krivak III-class Hetman Sahaidachny (U-130).

The lightly armed 3,500-ton OPV had been in a maintenance availability at Mykolaiv and was ordered wrecked to prevent her from falling into Russian hands.

The Ukraine Navy ship Slovyanks (P190)— formerly the 110-foot Island-class USCGC Cushing is allegedly sunk, with the parents of several of her crewmembers posting pleas for information. According to a Russian report (so hold your breath) the Mayor of the city of Yuzhne, Volodymyr Novatsky, said the patrol boat was sunk on 3 March by an anti-ship missile of Russian naval aviation. 

110 foot Islands Slavyansk and Starobilsk in better times. They are the former Bollinger-built Islands, ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321) and ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323).

The Ukrainians have managed to get one lick in, though.

On Monday night, Ukrainian Naval Infantry units reportedly hit the 1,800-ton Russian corvette, RFS Vasily Bykov off Odessa with a shore-based anti-ship missile (some chatter is that it was a GRAD rocket or even an ATGM instead). Heavily damaged and forced to retreat, it reinforces how dangerous it is to work in the littoral, even when you have control of the sea. 

Russian corvette, RFS Vasily Bykov, has reportedly been heavily damaged by shore-based fires near Odessa this week. 

In one report, Ukrainian small boats okie-doked the Russian Project 22160 patrol boat to chase them towards a camouflaged firing position, where he (Russian vessels are always “he”) was shelled and hit with at least one lucky shot. Dawn showed the vessel on fire offshore.

USCG Legacy in the Ukrainian Navy

Ukraine inherited a lot of assets from the old Soviet Black Sea Fleet in 1992 including the lion’s share of the personnel, armaments, and coastal facilities of the famed organization. However, over the course of two decades of continued neglect and atrophy, the once-mighty Fleet by 2014 largely just consisted on paper and, what still existed then largely was either captured/surrendered to the Russians or was destroyed in conjunction with the Russian seizure of Crimea, the hub of the old Black Sea Fleet and the modern Ukrainian Navy.

Since 2014, the Ukrainians have tried to rebuild, with the old commercial seaport of Odesa its primary base. This has included a little help from Washington in the form of five retired old former 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard Island-class patrol boats.

These guys:

*P190 Sloviansk, ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321)
*P191 Starobilsk, ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323)
*P192 Sumym ex- USCGC Ocracoke (WPB-1307)
*P193 Fastiv, ex-USCGC Washington (WPB-1331)
*P194 Vyacheslav Kubrak, ex-USCGC Kiska (WPB-1336)

The first two were transferred and delivered to Ukraine in 2019 after training 34 crewmen across 10-weeks to man them and the second two were shipped to the country last December after their crews were likewise trained at the USCG Yard. Kiska/Kubrak was set to be delivered in January 2022, but I am not sure that happened. The plan is to send them as many as seven Islands, or at least that was the plan.

Armed with a single Mk 38 Mod 0 Bushmaster forward and two M2HBs, they dropped their coast guard flash and gleaming white paint for a more utilitarian haze grey in Ukrainian service.

P191 Starobilsk, ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323), seen exercising with US destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG80) in the Black Sea 29 Sept 2020

As the largest ship of the Ukrainian fleet, the Nerei/Krivak III/Menzhinskiy-class frigate Hetman Sahaidachny (F130), is widely reported to have been scuttled by her crew at Nikolayev last week, things don’t look good for the old Islands.

Ukraine picks up a couple scratch-and-dent 110s

Last week the U.S. Coast Guard transferred a pair of two former 110-foot Island-class patrol boat cutters, the ex-USCGC Drummond (WPB-1323) and ex-USCGC Cushing (WPB-1321), during a ceremony at Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore.

Note the racing stripes are gone

Attending were Coast Guard VADM Michael McAllister, Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. Although it should be noted that the actual transfer will take place in 2019, after some maintenance, and training of their new Ukrainian crews.

Poroshenko is the gray-haired guy on the stern, looking toward the camera.

On the same day as the transfer, Poroshenko tweeted, “Having faced a opposition on the land, Russia is testing waters for a possible offensive from the sea. Like a hooligan at the street, Moscow makes a blow, if no reaction follows then it makes another blow. The task is to reassure Kremlin of our resolve to protect Ukraine’s shores.”

Cushing, long homeported in Atlantic Beach, was decommissioned last March after 29 years’ service. Drummond, who spent a very busy career in the Florida Straits as she was stationed in Miami Beach, struck last year after 30 years working for Uncle. They aren’t the first 110s sent to the Black Sea, as Georgia picked up a pair in 2016.